I've been saving some pictures of fern fiddleheads that started to unfold in mid-May, to show you when I could also show you the finished leaves. Ferns all unfold as some sort of fiddlehead, and all have spores rather than seeds like most flowering plants. I think ferns are my favourite of all plants, and Christmas Fern is one of my favourite ferns.
Christmas Fern fiddleheads are among the earliest, and come up covered in white hairs, tightly coiled.
A week or two later, depending on warmth and moisture, they have extended and partly unfolded, but are still a very fragile green.
And a month after they start emerging, they are full size leaves, the 18" frond cut into numerous separate leaflets. This is what is described as a 'once-cut' fern, only cut once into the mid-rib forming these leaflets.
Typically the leaflets on the upper end of the frond are noticeably smaller than those lower down, a pattern that shows up very well in this picture taken the other day.
And this older picture from later in the season shows how the back surface of the upper frond is covered in brown spore cases, a notable identifying feature of Christmas Fern. Tomorrow, a few more fiddleheads and their frond.